Portland race on thin ice

This Portland Oregonian article talks about the fact their Champ Car race is on thin ice. If the fans don't show up in large quantities this year, enough to cover costs, and if sponsorship falls short, the race might be history. While the article doesn't say it, the fact remains that many fans refuse to pay $50 to $80 for a grandstand seat for a race that is just 100 to 105 minutes long. To some it feels like it's over before it started. Some bemoan NASCAR for their long races and high ticket prices, but their attendance is huge and their TV ratings strong throughout the entire 3.5 to 4 hours. Perhaps fans feel they are getting more for their money with NASCAR.

Also, Champ Car did well at Portland back in their day when they had big name drivers like Andretti, Foyt and Unser. Heroes make or break a sport. Champ Car can help race promoters if its drivers were big stars – look at the Danica effect at Indy. Champ Car failed at places like Road America and Laguna Seca partially because of race promotion, but more because it no longer has the "big" stars it once had. As we have preached – fans will drive to remote tracks like Road America to see their hero. No heroes = poor race attendance, and if Champ Car thinks otherwise, it's kidding itself – its vision clouded by events like Long Beach which appeals to both hard core fans and casual fans because of the festive atmosphere.

Champ Car's ultimate success will be a direct result of whether it can make heroes out of its drivers. NASCAR recognized this decades ago and look where it is today.

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